Collaboration during World War II

During World War II Nazi Germany occupied all or parts of the following countries: Poland, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Egypt and Italy. The term of "Collaboration" was coined by Marshall Philippe Pétain, who proclaimed the Vichy regime in July 1940 and actively supported Collaborationism with Germany.

Collaboration ranged from urging the civilian population to remain calm and accept foreign occupation, organizing trade, production, financial and economic support to joining various branches of the armed forces of Axis powers or special "national" military units fighting under their command. Apart from active forms of collaboration, there was also "passive collaboration", where people on the occupied territories just went on with life, but were necessarily influenced by the occupation authorities.

Reasons for collaboration

There were various reasons for collaboration with the Nazi authorities: fear for one's life (many Soviet prisoners of war volunteered to serve under the German command in order to escape Nazi prison camps, notorious for starving the Soviet prisoners to death); believing that the Nazis would win the war and thus it would be better to be on the winning side; attempting to avoid conflict with the powerful Nazi occupational forces (such as in Denmark); seeking short-term goals, such as a better-paid job with higher privileges; ability to legally take revenge against former personal enemies; and pure Nazism and antisemitism; also, some people hoped for a stronger united Europe.

Hatred of Stalinism, and disgust of the Soviet system contributed greatly to the collaboration in the USSR. The Nazis failed to capitalize on this sentiment, and slowly much of this anti-Soviet sentiment reversed itself and cooperation with the Nazis in the east began to diminish. The "anti-Bolshevik" forces changed sides again, and thought it would be better to be on the other winning side, or in short, their earlier "opportunism", reversed itself.

Requirements for collaboration

The Nazis did not consider everyone equally fit for cooperation. Even people from closely related nations were often valued differently in accordance with Nazi racial theories. For example, the Scandinavians and Northern Europeans were considered to be better than Lithuanians due to the supposed Lithuanian intermixing with Slavs in the past. Slavs were considered to be even worse.

The Jews were considered to be worst of all and thus unfit for cooperation, although some were used in concentration camps as Kapos to report on other prisoners and enforce order. Others governed ghettos and helped organize deportations to extermination camps (Jewish Ghetto Police).

Partial list of collaborationist organizations


In April 1943 Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler created 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian) manned by Albanian volunteers and Kosovar Albanians. From August 1944, the division participated in operations against Yugoslav partisans and local Serbs. The discipline in the division was poor and in the beginning of 1945 it was disbanded. The emblem of the division was a black Albanian eagle.

During the Axis occupation, the Albanian Muslim Chams set up their own administration and militia, part of the fascist Balli Kombetar and XILIA organizations, at Thesprotia and collaborated closely with both the Italians and, when Italy capitulated, the Germans.

Albanian Cham units also played an active part in the Holocaust in Greece, including the round-up and expulsion to Auschwitz and Birkenau of the 2,000 strong Romaniotes Greek-Jewish community of Ioannina in April 1944. As the Germans and their allies began to lose ground to the anti-Nazi militias in 1944, and started retiring to Albania, many hundreds of Chams followed them.


Belorussian collaborators participated in various massacre of Belarusian villagers. Many of these collaborators retreated with German forces in the wake of the Red Army advance, and in January 1945, formed the 30th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Belorussian).


373rd infantry battalion of Wehrmacht, manned by Belgians, took part in anti-guerrilla actions in the occupied territory of the USSR from August 1941 to February 1942. In May 1943 the battalion was transformed into the 5th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien and sent to the Eastern Front. In the autumn the brigade has been transformed into 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien. Its remains surrendered to British troops in the final days of war.


The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS (also known as the 1st Croatian or Handschar division), manned by Bosniaks and Croats, but commanded by German officers, was created in February 1943. The division participated in anti-guerrilla operations in Yugoslavia. By 1944, most of the division defected to the Yugoslav partisans.

Central Asia

The Turkestan legion was the general name for the units of Central Asian exiles and POWs who fought on the side of Germany during the war. Estimates of the total number of Central Asians who fought under the Nazis number in the hundreds of thousands.


First Japanese puppet in China was Manchukuo led by former Chinese emperor Pu-Yi established after Japanese took over Manchuria in early 1930s. With the Japanese advance in China more puppet regimes were established: Mengjiang in 1936, Provisional Government of the Republic of China in 1937 and Reformed Government of the Republic of China in 1938. The two latter were merged into Nanjing Nationalist government in 1940 and recently defected Chinese politician Wang Jingwei was put as the leader of the puppet regime. The government recruited troops from local population who were supplied by the Japanese. The army had as much as 2 million soldiers at peak, which was greater than the Japanese army in China, unique in WW2. Great number of collaborationist troops were men originally serving in National Revolutionary Army who had defected when facing both Communists and Japanese as enemies. Although it's manpower was very large, the soldiers were very ineffective compared to NRA soldiers due to low morale for being considered as "Hanjian". The Wang Jingwei government was disbanded after Japanese surrender to Allies in 1945, and Manchukuo and Mengjiang were destroyed by Soviet troops in Operation August Storm.


Ante Pavelić's Croatian puppet state was an ally of Nazi Germany. The Croatian extreme nationalists, Ustashe, killed at least hundreds of thousands of Serbs and other victims in the Jasenovac concentration camp.

The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian), created in February 1943, and the 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama, created in January 1944, were manned by Croats and Bosniaks as well as local Germans.


At 4:15 in the morning of 9 April 1940 (Danish standard time), German forces crossed the border into neutral Denmark, in direct violation of a German-Danish treaty of non-aggression signed the previous year. After two hours the Danish government surrendered, believing that resistance was useless and hoping to work out an advantageous agreement with Germany. As a result of the cooperative attitude of the Danish authorities, German officials claimed that they would "respect Danish sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as neutrality. The German authorities were inclined towards lenient terms with Denmark for several reasons. These factors allowed Denmark a very favorable relationship with Nazi Germany. The government remained intact and the parliament continued to function more or less as it had before. They were able to maintain much of their former control over domestic policy. Danish public opinion generally backed the new government, particularly after the fall of France in June 1940. There was a general feeling that the unpleasant reality of German occupation must be confronted in the most realistic way possible, given the international situation. Newspaper articles and news reports "which might jeopardize German-Danish relations" were outlawed. After the assault on the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, Denmark joined the Anti-Comintern Pact, together with the fellow Nordic state of Finland; the Communist Party was banned in Denmark. Industrial production and trade was, partly due to geopolitical reality and economic necessity, redirected toward Germany. Many government officials saw expanded trade with Germany as vital to maintaining social order in Denmark. Increased unemployment and poverty was feared to lead to more of open revolt within the country, since Danes tended to blame all negative developments on the Germans. It was feared that any revolt would result in a crackdown by the German authorities.

In return for these concessions, the Danish cabinet rejected German demands for legislation discriminating against Denmark's Jewish minority. Demands to introduce the death penalty were likewise rebuffed and so were German demands to allow German military courts jurisdiction over Danish citizens. Denmark also rejected demands for the transfer of Danish army units to German military use. Throughout the years of its hold on power, the government consistently refused to accept German demands regarding the Jews. The authorities would not enact special laws concerning Jews, and their civil rights remained equal with those of the rest of the population. German authorities became increasingly exasperated with this position but concluded that any attempt to remove or mistreat Jews would be "politically unacceptable. Even the Gestapo officer Dr. Werner Best, plenipotentiary in Denmark from November 1942, believed that any attempt to remove the Jews would be enormously disruptive to the relationship between the two governments and recommended against any action concerning the Jews of Denmark.

On the 29th of June, 1941, days after the invasion of the USSR, Frikorps Danmark (Free Corps Denmark) was founded as a corps of Danish volunteers to fight against the Soviet Union. Frikorps Danmark was set up at the initiative of the SS and DNSAP who approached Lieutenant-Colonel C.P. Kryssing of the Danish army shortly after the invasion of the USSR had begun. The Nazi paper Fædrelandet proclaimed the creation of the corps on 29 June 1941. According to Danish law, it was not illegal to join a foreign army, but active recruiting on Danish soil was illegal. The SS disregarded this law and began recruiting efforts — predominantly recruiting Danish Nazis and members of the German-speaking minority.


In 1941, Eesti Omakaitse (Estonian Self-Defence) took part in the round-up and killing of 7,000 people charged for collaboration with Soviet organs, or having committed crimes against humanity. Only a relatively small proportion of Eesti Omakaitse (approximately between 1000 and 1200 men) were directly involved in criminal acts, taking part in the round-up (and possibly killing) of hundreds of Roma people and Jews. 15,000 Soviet POW died in Estonia, and it is impossible to say, how many of them died because of hard living conditions and how many were executed.

The all-volunteer Estnische SS-Legion, Battaillon Narwa was formed from the 800 men to have finished their training at Dębica (Heidelager in 1943). In April 1943 the Battaillon was sent to join the Division Wiking in Ukraine. After the general conscription call the unit was sent back to Estonia in March 1944, was reformed as the 20th Waffen Fusilier Battalion der SS. In June 1944 the Battalion joined the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian), a division formed in 1944 by illegal conscription, finished its way in May 1945 in Czechoslovakia. The Nuremberg Trials ruled that conscripts to the Waffen SS were exempted from the judgement that applied to the Waffen SS. The division's soldiers carried stripes with the Estonian national colors and images of three lions from the coat of arms of the Republic of Estonia.

Units of Estonian auxiliary police participated in the extermination of the Jews in Estonia and Pskov region of Russia and provided guards for concentration camps for Jews and Soviet POWs (Jägala, Vaivara, Klooga, Lagedi), in all of which prisoners were killed. Despite the criminal activities in which numbers of policemen were engaged, it is not reasonable to assign responsibility solely by virtue of their positions to every individual who worked in the various police structures. However, it is reasonable to assign responsibility for these crimes to everyone who served in Police Department B-IV, by virtue of their office.

The 36th Estonian Police Battalion were accused in took part in mass shooting of Jews in a Byelorussian town of Novogrudki on 7 August, 1942, but no documents exist, that clarify the role of Estonian units in the massacre. The 37th, 38th, 40th, 286th, 288th Estonian battalions operated against the partisans in the Pskov, Luga, Gdov regions of Russia and Belarus. According to Russian sources, the 658th battalion participated in punitive operations against civilians near the town of Kingisepp and the village of Kerstovo, Leningrad Region, and burnt down the settlements of Babino, Habalovo, and Cigirinka.


The Vichy government, headed by Marshall Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval, actively collaborated in the extermination of the European Jews. It also participated in Porrajmos, the extermination of Rom people, and in the extermination of other "undesirables." Vichy opened up a series of concentration camps in France where it interned Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, political opponents, etc. Directed by René Bousquet, the French police helped in the deportation of 76,000 Jews to the extermination camps. In 1995 President Jacques Chirac officially recognized the responsibility of the French state for the deportation of Jews during the war, in particular during the July 1942 Vel'd'hiv raid, during which Laval decided, by his own, to deport children along with their parents. Only 2,500 of the deported Jews survived the war. The 1943 Battle of Marseille was another event during which the French police assisted the Gestapo in a massive raid, which included an urban reshaping plan involving the destruction of a whole neighborhood in the popular Old Port. Some few collaborators were judged in the 1980s for crimes against humanity (Paul Touvier, etc.), while Maurice Papon, who had become after the war prefect of police of Paris (a function in which he illustrated himself during the 1961 Paris massacre) was convicted in 1998 for crimes against humanity. He had been Budget Minister under President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. Other collaborators, such as Emile Dewoitine, managed to have important functions after the war (Dewoitine was eventually named head of Aérospatiale, the firm which created the Concorde plane). Debates concerning state collaboration remain, in 2008, very strong in France.

The French volunteers to the SS formed the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French), which in 1945 was among the final defenders of Berlin.


Breton nationists such as Olier Mordrel and François Debeauvais had longstanding links with Nazi Germany because of the their fascist and Nordicist ideologies, linked to the belief that the Bretons were a "pure" Celtic branch of the Aryan-Nordic race. At the outbreak of the war they left France and declared support for Germany. After 1940 they returned and their supporters such as Célestin Lainé and Yann Goulet organized militias that worked in collaboration with the Germans. Lainé and Goulet later took refuge in Ireland.


After the German invasion of Greece, a Nazi-held puppet government was established in Athens. The three quisling prime ministers (Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis) cooperated with the Axis authorities. Besides, Greek National-Socialist parties (such as the Greek National Socialist Party) or anti-semitic organisations (such as the National Union of Greece) helped German authorities fight the Resistance and identify and deport Greek Jews. Moreover, special armed collaborationist forces (such as the Security Battalions) were created to aid the collaborationist regime.

About 1,000 Greeks from Greece and thousands of Greeks from the Soviet Union, avenging their prosecution from Soviet authorities, joined the Waffen-SS, especially in Ukrainian divisions. A special case is that of the infamous Sevastianos Foulidis, a Greek who was an official of the Wehrmacht as well as an effective spy at the Abwehr.


Hungary was a war ally and then puppet state of Nazi Germany. The Hungarians played an active role in the murder of about 23,600 Jews (14,000–18,000 of whom were from Hungary) in Kamenets-Podolsk in the late August 1941. Radical Hungarian governments — mainly the puppet government of Döme Sztójay, appointed after the German occupation — actively participated in the Holocaust.

The Arrow Cross Party was a Hungarian Nazi party led by Ferenc Szálasi which ruled Hungary from October 15, 1944 to January 1945 following the German SS coup in Budapest. During its short rule, 80,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to their deaths. Out of 825,000 Hungarian Jews before the war, only 260,000 survived.


The Legion Freies Indien, or Indische Freiwilligen Infanterie Regiment 950 (also known as the Indische Freiwilligen-Legion der Waffen-SS) was created in August 1942, chiefly from disaffected Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, captured by the Axis in North Africa. Many, if not most, of the Indian volunteers who switched sides to fight with the German Army and against the British were strongly nationalistic supporters of the exiled, anti-British, former president of the Indian National Congress, Netaji (the Leader) Subhash Chandra Bose. (See also the Tiger Legion and Indian National Army)


Among Indonesians to receive Japanese imperial honours from Hirohito in November 1943 were the Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta. Sukarno actively recruited and organised Indonesian Romusha forced labour. They succeeded respectively to become the founding President of the Republic of Indonesia and Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia in August 1945.


The Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana or RSI) was a client state of Nazi Germany led by the "Leader of the Nation" (Duce) and "Minister of Foreign Affairs" Benito Mussolini. The RSI exercised official sovereignty in northern Italy but was largely dependent on the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) to maintain control. The state was informally known as the "Salò Republic" (Repubblica di Salò) because the RSI's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mussolini) was headquartered in Salò, a small town on Lake Garda. The Italian Social Republic was the second and last incarnation of a Fascist Italian state.


Having occupied Latvia in summer 1941, German command has created the local voluntary troops (Schutzmannschaft or Schuma), to struggle against the Soviet partisans and serve as guards in concentration camps for Jews and Soviet prisoners of war The group of the Latvian auxiliary police known as Arājs Commando murdered about 26,000 Jews, mainly in November and December 1941.

On October 16, 1941, 16th Latvian battalion under the command of Kārlis Mangulis was sent to the Eastern front. At the end of December 1941, 17th Latvian Vidzeme battalion was sent to Belarus. On January 13, 1942, 18th Kurzeme battalion started service in Ukraine. On March 30, Liepāja battalion was attached to 21st to the German Army Group North, besieging Leningrad. In May 1942, two more Latvian battalions were sent to Ukraine, one to Belarus and one to the Leningrad sector.

Between 1942 and 1944, Latvian auxiliary police together with Lithuanian and Ukrainian Schuma-battalions participated in large punitive operations in Leningrad, Novgorod, Pskov and Vitebsk regions In February and March 1943, eight Latvian Schuma-battalions took part in the anti-partisan Operation Winterzauber in the Sebezh–Osveya–Polotsk triangle in Belarus and in the Pskov region (Russia). During this operation, 158 settlements were plundered and burnt down. The inhabitants of eight villages were massacred (Gerlach, C. "Kalkulierte Morde", Hamburger Edition, Hamburg, 1999).

The Latvian Volunteer SS Division (Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Division), manned by 32,000 volunteers, was created in February 1943. The division was headed by Latvian Minister of Defence Rūdolfs Bangerskis. In October 1943, the division was split up into two parts, which would ultimately come to be called the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) and the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian).

In November 1943, the 1st Latvian Division fought Soviet troops near Novosokolniki (Russia). This division finished its path in April 1945, in Germany, having surrendered to British (Williamson, G. "The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror", Brown Packaging Limited, 1994). The 2nd Latvian Division fought on the Leningrad front.


Prior to the Nazi invasion, some leaders in Lithuania and in exile believed Germany would grant the country autonomy along the lines of the status of the Slovakia protectorate. Nazi intelligence believed it had control of the Lithuanian Activist Front, a pro-Nazi organization based in the Lithuanian embassy in Berlin, and initially allowed a Lithuanian government to form without recognizing it diplomatically, although the Third Reich vetoed Lithuanian ambassador Kazys Škirpa's role as prime minister. Once German military rule in Lithuania was replaced by a German civil authority, the Lithuanian provisional government was disbanded. Partisans organised by Algirdas Klimaitis and led by SS Brigadeführer Walter Stahlecker started pogroms in and around Kaunas on June 25, 1941. Lithuanian collaborators would become involved in the murders of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles. Due to the fact that the Nazi collaborators were working towards Lithuanian independence, and against the Soviet occupants, they were and still are seen in Lithuania as heroes.

In 1941 Lithuanian Security Police (Lietuvos saugumo policija), subordinate to Nazi Germany's Security Police and Nazi Germany's Criminal Police, was created. Of the 26 local police battalions formed, 10 were involved in the Holocaust (2 of them systematically). The Special SD and German Security Police Squad in Vilnius killed tens of thousands of Jews and Poles in Paneriai (see Ponary massacree) and other places. It also fought against the Soviet partisans. In Minsk, the 2nd Battalion shot about 9,000 Soviet prisoners of war, in Slutsk it massacred 5,000 Jews. In March of 1942 in Poland, the 2nd Lithuanian Battalion carried out guard duty in the Majdanek extermination camp. In July of 1942, the 2nd Battalion participated in the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to a death camp. In August–October 1942, the police battalions formed from Lithuanians were in Ukraine: the 3rd in Molodechno, the 4th in Donetsk, the 7th-в in Vinnitsa, the 11th in Korosten, the 16th in Dnepropetrovsk, the 254th in Poltava and the 255th in Mogilyov (Belarus). In February–March 1943, the 2nd Lithuanian battalion participated in the large anti-guerrilla action "Winterzauber" (Winter magic) in Belarus, cooperating with several Latvian and the 50th Ukrainian Schuma-battalions. The 3rd Lithuanian battalion took part in the "Marsh fever Southwest" anti-guerrilla operation carried out in the Baranovich, Berezov, Ivatsevich, Slonim and Ljahovich regions of Belarus in cooperation with the 24th Latvian battalion.). In 1942–1944, the 13th and 256th Lithuanian battalions operated against partisans in the Pskov and Novgorod regions of Russia.

The Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force was formed of volunteers in 1944. Its leadership was Lithuanian, whereas arms were provided by Germans. The purpose of the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force was to defend Lithuania against approaching Soviet Army defend civil population in the territory of Lithuania form actions of partisans. In practice, the LTDF was primarily engaged in suppressing the Polish population and the anti-Nazi Polish resistance of Armia Krajowa; LTDF was disbanded after it sustained a major defeat from Polish partisans in the battle of Murowana Oszmianka.

The participation of the local populace was a key factor in the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, which resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian Jews living in the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian territories that would, from July 17, 1941, become the Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland. Out of approximately 210,000 Jews, (208,000 according to the Lithuanian pre-war statistical data). an estimated 195,000 - 196,000 perished before the end of World War II (wider estimates are sometimes published); most from June to December of 1941. The events that took place in the western regions of the USSR occupied by Nazi Germany in the first weeks after the German invasion (including Lithuania - Coffinmap.jpg) marked the sharp intensification of The Holocaust.


Thousands of Dutch volunteers joined the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland (created in February 1943). The division participated in fighting against the Soviet army and was crushed in the Battle of Berlin in April–May 1945.

This was also the case for the 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking. It was involved in several major battles on the Eastern Front.

SS-Freiwilligen Legion Niederlande, manned by Dutch volunteers and German officers, battled the Soviet army from 1941. In December 1943 it gained brigade status after fighting on the front around Leningrad. It was at Leningrad that the first European volunteer, a Dutchman, earned the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross: Gerard Mooyman. In December 1944, it was transformed into the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nederland and fought in Courland and Pomerania. It found its end scattered across Germany. 49. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 'de Ruyter' fought at the Oder and surrendered on 3 May 1945 to the Americans. 48. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 'General Seyffardt' however was split up into two groups. The first of these fought with Kampfgruppe Vieweger and went under in the fighting near Halbe. The few remaining survivors were captured by the Soviets. The other half of 'General Seyffart' fought with Korpsgruppe Tettau and surrendered to the western Allies.


In Norway, the Vidkun Quisling government was installed by the Germans as a puppet regime, while the true Norwegian government was in exile. Quisling encouraged Norwegians to serve as volunteers in the Waffen SS, collaborating in the deportation of Jews, and was responsible for the executions of Norwegian patriots.

In spite of this, the vast majority of Norwegians hated the Nazis, and many contributed to the resistance, including the rescue of Jews and others. However, about 45,000 Norwegian collaborators joined the pro-Nazi party Nasjonal Samling (National Union), and some police units helped arrest many of Norway's Jews. After the war, Quisling and other collaborators were executed. Quisling's name has become an international eponym for traitor.



A Palestinian Arab nationalist and a Muslim religious leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammad Amin al-Husayni worked for the Nazi Germany as a propagandist and a recruiter of Muslim volunteers for the Waffen SS and other units.

On November 28 1941, Hitler officially received al-Husayni in Berlin. Hitler made a declaration that after "...the last traces of the Jewish-Communist European hegemony had been obliterated... the German army would... gain the southern exit of Caucasus... the Führer would offer the Arab world his personal assurance that the hour of liberation had struck. Thereafter, Germany's only remaining objective in the region would be limited to the Vernichtung des... Judentums ['destruction of the Jewish element', sometimes taken to be a euphemism for 'annihilation of the Jews'] living under British protection in Arab lands.."

The Mufti spent the remainder of the war assisting with the formation of Muslim Waffen SS units in the Balkans and the formation of schools and training centers for imams and mullahs who would accompany the Muslim SS and Wehrmacht units. Beginning in 1943, al-Husayni was involved in the organization and recruitment of Bosnian Muslims into several divisions. The largest of which was the 13th "Handschar" division of 21,065 men.

In 1944, al-Husayni sponsored an unsuccessful chemical warfare assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Five parachutists were supplied with maps of Tel Aviv, canisters of a German–manufactured "fine white powder," and instructions from the Mufti to dump chemicals into the Tel Aviv water system. District police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi later recalled, "The laboratory report stated that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers.


Jewish underground Zionist group Lehi, also known as the "Stern Gang" offered cooperation to the Nazis in sabotage, espionage and intelligence and up to wide military operations in the Middle East and in eastern Europe anywhere where they had Jewish cells in return for full recognition of an independent Jewish state in Palestine, an ability to emigrate to Palestine for all Jews, with no restriction of numbers. This offer of collaboration was sent in 1941 to the German Naval attache in Ankara and forwarded through German embassy to Berlin but found no response from the Nazis.


Unlike in most other countries occupied by the Nazi Germany, where the Nazis sought (and found) collaborators, in occupied Poland former Polish citizens were unlikely to be given positions of any significant authority. This meant that in Poland was no legal collaboration at the political and economic level.

There is general consensus among scholars that there was very little collaboration with the Nazis among the Polish citizens, compared to most other Nazi-occupied countries. Depending on a definition of collaboration (and of a Polish citizen), scholars give widely different estimates of the number of "Polish collaborators", ranging from several thousands (that number is supported by the Israeli War Crimes Commission) to well over a million. The lower estimate is based primarily on the sentences of the Special Courts of the Polish Underground State, sentencing individuals for treason; the upper include low-ranking Polish bureaucrats emplyed in German administration, members of the Blue Police, Baudienst work battalions, laborers in German-run factories and farms, and other Polish citizens who in some way contributed to the German plans. Many of the latter were forcibly drafted into service; some acted as spies for Polish resistance. John Connelly quoted a Polish historian (Leszek Gondek) calling the phenomenon of Polish collaboration "marginal" and wrote that "only relatively small percentage of Polish population engaged in activities that may be described as collaboration when seen against the backdrop of European and world history".

Likely the largest faction of the pre-war Polish citizens that have actively collaborated with the Nazi Germans was the German minority in Poland. In 1939, before the German invasion of Poland, 800,000 people called themselves a German minority. During the war there were about 3 millions of former Polish citizens who declared themselves Volksdeutsche.

In October 1939, the Nazis ordered the mobilization of the pre-war Polish police to the service of the occupational authorities. The policemen were to report for duty or face death penalty. Blue Police was formed. At their peak in 1943, they numbered some 16,000. The Blue Police primary occupation was to act as a regular police force and to deal with criminal activities, but were also used by the Germans in combating smuggling, resistance and in measures against the Polish (and Polish Jewish) population: for example, it took place in łapankas and patrolled for Jewish escapees from the ghettos. Nonetheless many individuals in the Blue Police followed German orders reluctantly, often disobeyed German orders or even risked death acting against them. Many members of the Blue Police in fact a double agents for the Polish resistance. Some of its officers were ultimately awarded the Righteous Among the Nations award for saving the Jews.

From 1942 on an infamous unit was employed in anti-partisan activities in Poland and the Ukraine (Polnisches Schutzmannschaftsbataillon 202).

In 1944 Germans clandestinely armed a few regional Armia Krajowa (AK) units operating in the area of Vilnius in order to encourage them to act against the Soviet partisans in the region; in Nowogrodek district and to a lesser degree in Vilnius district. Such arrangements were purely tactical and did not evidence the type of ideological collaboration as shown by Vichy regime in France or Quisling regime in Norway. The Poles main motivation was to gain intelligence on German morale and preparedness and to acquire much needed equipment. There are no known joint Polish-German actions, and the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn the Poles toward fighting exclusively against Soviet partisans. Further, most of such collaboration of local commanders with the Germans was condemned by AK headquarters. Tadeusz Piotrowski quotes Joseph Rothschild saying "The Polish Home Army was by and large untainted by collaboration" and adds that "the honor of AK as a whole is beyond reproach".

One partisan unit of Polish extreme right-wing (anti-Nazi but also anti-communist National Armed Forces), the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, eventually decided to collaborate with the Germans (it ceased its actions against the Germans, accepts logistic help and fought exclusively against the Soviets) in late stages of the war to avoid capture by the Soviet units.


Romania became a military ally of the Nazi Germany and thus it is sometimes considered that those who cooperated with the Romanian government during World War II were Nazi collaborators.

A report released in 2004 by a panel commissioned by the Romanian government assessed that a total of between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were murdered or perished in Romania as a direct result of the policies or actions of the World War II Romanian regime led by Ion Antonescu. Approximately 200,000 Jews were killed in the Odessa region, often called Transnistria (occupied from the USSR) at the end of 1941 and during 1942 by the Romanian Army and the Einsatzgruppe D. The District Commissioner Col. Modest Isopesco and the German advisor to the Romanian administration Fleisher took decision to murder all the inmates at the Bogdanovka extermination camp after several cases of typhus were discovered in the camp. Romanian soldiers and gendarmes, together with Ukrainian police and civilians, and local ethnic Germans under the commander of the Ukrainian regular police, Kazachievici, participated in the massacres.

Additionally, 25,000 Roma were sent to concentration camps, of which an estimated 11,000 died. The Romanian government had a program of deportation of the Romanian Jews to camps in Transnistria, implemented especially in the Moldavia region. However, this was terminated in 1943, 16 months before Romania ended its alliance with Nazi Germany and 340,000 Romanian Jews survived the war.


Cooperation among the Soviet people with Nazis existed in various places of USSR including Russia. Fascist Russians were for instance allowed to govern the Lokot Republic, an autonomous sector in Nazi-occupied Russia, which was governed by ethnic Russians themselves. These included the notorious Kaminski Brigade, infamous because of its involvement in atrocities in Belarus and Poland, and the 30th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Russian).

Many ethnic Russians enlisted into the German auxiliary police. Local civilians and Russian POWs, as well as Red Army defectors were encouraged to join the Wehrmacht as "hilfswillige". Some of them also served in so-called Ost battalions which, in particular, defended the French coastline against the expected Allied invasion.

Adolf Hitler expected Turkey to enter the war, to advance from the Caucasus to the Middle East, with the formation of Islamic fighting units in the Caucasus, along with Arabian and other Islamic legions, taking part in the task of attracting the Middle East into the Nazi influence zone. Alfred Rosenberg mentioned the Berlin-Tbilisi Axis, and during the German invasion some Georgians, Azeris and others arrived to serve in their own countries. The Nazis established contact with some nationalities - Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingushes, Balkars, Karachays, Kabardins, Balkars and others (Crimean Tatars).

The Kalmykian Voluntary Cavalry Corps was a unit of about 5,000 Kalmyk Mongol volunteers who chose to join the Wehrmacht in 1942 rather than remain in Kalmykia as the German Army retreated before the Red Army.

In May 1943 German General Helmuth von Pannwitz was given authorization to create a first Cossack Division consisting of two brigades primarilly from Don and Kuban Cossacks, including former exiled White Army commanders such as Pyotr Krasnov and Andrei Shkuro. The division however was then not sent to fight the Red Army, but was ordered, in September 1943, to proceed to Yugoslavia and fight Josip Broz Tito's partisans. During the summer of 1944 the two brigades were upgraded to become the 1st Cossack Cavalry Division and 2nd Cossack Cavalry Division. From the beginning of 1945 these divisions were combined to become XVth Cossack Cavalry Corps.

Pro-German Russian forces also included the anti-communist Russian Liberation Army (POA, Русская Освободительная Армия), which saw action alongside the Wehrmacht. On May 1st, 1945, however, POA turned against the SS and fought on the side of Czech insurgents during the Prague Uprising.

See also Cossacks, Crimean and Caucasian volunteer units in German forces


Prior to being invaded by Nazi Germany, Serbian army general Milan Nedić was known to be Hitler advocate and was working on striking a pact with Germany. That pact was rejected by Serbian people who demonstrated on March 26, 1941 and forced the government to withdraw. Angered by what he perceived a treason by Serbian people, Hitler invaded Kingdom of Yugoslavia without warning on April 6, 1941. 11 days later Yugoslavia capitulated and a Nazi supporting government led by Milan Nedić was formed. Many Serbian organizations such as ZBOR, Serbian State Guard, Serbian Volunteer Corps, Serbian Volunteer Command had tens of thousands of members and helped guard and run the concentration camps. By 1942 Belgrade was the first city to be declared 'Judenrein' ('cleansed of Jews').

Chetniks also collaborated with the Fascists.


The Slovak Republic (Slovenská republika) was an independent national Slovak state which existed from 14 March 1939 to 8 May 1945 as an ally and client state of Nazi Germany. The Slovak Republic existed on roughly the same territory as present-day Slovakia (with the exception of the southern and eastern parts of present-day Slovakia). The Republic bordered Germany, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland, and Hungary.


Slovensko domobranstvo (German: Slowenische Landeswehr, English: Slovene Home Guard) or SD for short, was a collaborationist force, formed in September 1943 in the area of present day Slovenia (then a part of Yugoslavia). An individual member was a 'Domobranec', the plural of which was 'Domobranci'. SD functioned like most collaborationist forces in Axis-occupied Europe during World War II, but had limited autonomy, and at first functioned as an auxiliary police force that assisted the Germans in anti-Partisan actions. Later, it gained more autonomy and conducted most of the anti-Partisan operations in the Slovenian area.

Much of the SD's equipment was Italian (confiscated when Italy dropped out of the war in 1943), although German weapons and equipment were used as well, especially later in the war.


Ukraine was split during the Second World War between the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union and the Second Polish Republic, in addition to minor regions being in Romania and Czechoslovakia. Although only the former recognised the Ukrainian autonomy, and most of the Ukrainians did fight for the Red Army, the negative impacts of Soviet policies such as the Holodomor of 1933 and the persecution of many intellectuals during the Great Purge of 1937, as well as after the annexation of Western Ukraine from Poland in 1939 and the Collectivisation and repressions in the region in 1939–1941 meant that many towns, cities and villages, greeted the Germans as liberators with a traditional welcome "bread and salt". Under the German administration ethnic Ukrainians were allowed to work in administrative positions such as in the auxiliary police, post office, government structures, something that was denied to them under the previous Polish regime.

There is evidence of Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust. The Ukrainian auxiliary police participated in rounding up of Jews who were headed to the Babi Yar massacre near Kiev and in other Ukrainian cities and towns, such as Lviv, Lutsk, and Zhitomir.

Soviet POWs of various ethnic origin trained in Trawniki training camp served as guards of the Operation Reinhard killing centers and concentration camps in Poland.

The Germans attempted to recruit Soviet people (and to a lesser extent other Eastern Europeans) voluntarily for the OST-Arbeiter or Eastern worker program; originally this worked, but the news of the terrible conditions they faced dried up the volunteers and the program became forcible.

During the period of occupation, various articles in some Ukrainian language newspapers reflected the German stance regarding the Jewish population, with one commenting, "The element that settled our cities (Jews)... must disappear completely from our cities. The Jewish problem is already in the process of being solved.

Ukrainian forces participated in crushing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 and also later the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 where a mixed force of German SS troops, Russians, Cossacks, Azeris and Ukrainians, backed by German regular army units - committed countless atrocities - killing up to 40,000 civilians in the first two days alone.

By April 28, 1943 German Command created the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Galizien (1st Ukrainian) manned by 14,000 volunteers. Atrocities and massacres were committed by the SS Galizien division against various ethnic minorities, during the course of WW2 . NOTE: For a more balanced view of the history of the 'Galicia' Division, follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph.

Other examples are Zhitomir on September 18, 1941, in the Ukraine where 3,145 Jews were murdered with the assistance of Ukrainian militia (Operational Report 106) and Korosten where Ukrainian militia rounded up 238 Jews for liquidation (Operational Report 80). At times the assistance was more active. Operational Report 88, for example, reports that on September 6, 1941, 1,107 Jewish adults were shot while the Ukrainian militia unit assisting them liquidated 561 Jewish children and youths.

United Kingdom

The Channel Islands were the only territory in the British Isles occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. Local police collaborated with the Nazis in rounding up Jews for deportation and murder. The issue was never addressed by British law-enforcement authorities following World War II. "In Britain the administrators and the police in the Channel Islands (the only part of the United Kingdom occupied by the Germans) who had helped with the deportation of Jews continued to work in their old positions, and some of them even received the Order of the British Empire for the bravery they had shown in the war years."

Tripartite Pact

In the European theatre several countries signed or adhered to the Tripartite Pact particularly in Eastern Europe and Balkan.

The tripartite signatories can best be described as a whole as the "Axis Powers" which in a sense was a collaborationist effort or alliance much like the Allies. Collaboration within the Axis alliance is detailed in Axis Powers, this article will deal mostly with significant collaboration by governments or civilians in occupied territories.

Material support

Material support was the direct government sanctioned involvement in the war effort in support of the Axis powers politically, economically and materially.

The most significant support of Germany came from the European tripartite signatories of the Balkans. Albania declared war on the Allies along with the Kingdom of Italy in 1940 and later that year Slovakia declared war on Great Britain and the United States. Slovakian, Albanian and Hungarian national units and armies fought with the German forces against the Soviet Union on the eastern front throughout the war.

However, significant support was also given by many countries initially at war with Germany but which subsequently elected to adopt a policy of co-operation.

The Vichy government in France is one of the best known and most significant examples of collaboration between former enemies of Germany and Germany itself. When the French Vichy government emerged at the same time of the Free French in London there was much confusion regarding the loyalty of French overseas colonies and more importantly their overseas armies and naval fleet. The reluctance of Vichy France to either disarm or surrender their naval fleet resulted in the British destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir on 3 July 1940. Later in the war French colonies were frequently used as staging areas for invasions or airbases for the Axis powers both in Indo China and Syria. This resulted in the invasion of Syria and Lebanon with the capture of Damascus on June 17 and later the Battle of Madagascar against Vichy French forces which lasted for 7 months until November the same year.

Many other countries cooperated to some extent and in different ways. Denmark's government cooperated with the German occupiers until 1943 and actively helped recruit members for the Nordland and Wiking Waffen SS divisions and helped organize trade and sale of industrial and agricultural products to Germany. In Greece, the three quisling prime ministers (Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis) cooperated with the Axis authorities. Agricultural products (especially tobacco) were sent to Germany, Greek "volunteers" were sent to work to German factories, and special armed forces (such as the Security Battalions were created to fight along German soldiers against the Allies and the Resistance movement. In Norway the government successfully managed to escape to London but Vidkun Quisling established a puppet regime in its absence—albeit with little support from the local population.


Volunteers joined the Wehrmacht, the auxiliary police (Schutzmannschaft) and the Waffen SS from most occupied countries and even a small number from some Commonwealth countries (British Free Corps). Overall, almost 600.000 of Waffen-SS members were non-German with some countries as Belgium and the Netherlands contributing thousands of volunteers.

Various collaborationalist parties in occupied France and the Vichy government assisted in establishing the Légion des volontaires français contre le bolchevisme (LVF). This volunteer army initially counted some 10,000 volunteers and would later become the 33rd Waffen SS division and one of the first SS divisions comprising mostly foreigners.

Following is a list of the 21 largest Waffen SS division composed mostly or totally of members from foreign countries.

Apart from frontline units volunteers played another important role notably in the large ‘’Schutzmannschaft’’ units in the German occupied territories in Eastern Europe. After Operation Barbarossa recruitment of local forces began almost immediately mostly by initiative of Himmler. These forces were not members of the regular armed forces and were not intended for frontline duty but were instead used for rear echelon activities including maintaining peace, fighting partisans, acting as police and organizing supplies for the front lines. In the later years of the war these units numbered almost 200.000.

Collaboration with the Empire of Japan

During World War II the Empire of Japan occupied all or parts (often territories) of at least 9 countries: China, Korea, France, United States, Philippines, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Thailand (Siam), Portugal and Australia.

The Japanese set up several puppet regimes in occupied Chinese territories. The first of which was Manchukuo in 1932, followed by the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government in 1935. Similar to Manchukuo in its supposed ethnic identity, Mengjiang (Mengkukuo) was set up in late 1936. Wang Keming's collaborationist Provisional Government of the Republic of China was set up in 1937 following the start of full-scale military operations between China and Japan, and it became the Reformed Government of the Republic of China in 1938. The Wang Jingwei Regime, established in 1940, "consolidated" these regimes, though in reality neither Wang's government nor the constituent governments had any autonomy.

The military forces of these puppet regimes, known collectively as the Collaborationist Army (伪军), numbered more than a million at their height, and a total of some 2 million were ever conscripted. Although certain collaborationist forces had limited battlefield presence during the Second Sino-Japanese War, most were relegated to behind-the-line duties.


  • 60% of the Waffen SS comprised non-Germans
  • The predominantly Scandinavian Nordland division along with remnants of French and Dutch volunteers were last defenders of the Reichstag in Berlin.
  • The Waffen-SS maintained several "Foreign Legions" made up of personnel from conquered territories and countries allied to Germany. The majority of such personnel wore distinctive a national collar patch and preceded their SS rank titles with the prefix Waffen instead of SS. The racial restrictions were relaxed for these soldiers to the extent that Ukrainian Slavs, Albanians from Kosovo, and Turkic Tatars' units were recruited. The Ukrainians and the Tatars had both suffered persecution under Stalin and their motive appeared to be hatred of Communism rather than belief in National Socialism. The Kosovo Albanians were likely motivated by the chance to exterminate Serbians. One year of Soviet occupation of Baltic countries at the beginning of World War II produced enough volunteers to form Estonian and Latvian SS formations.

See also

Notes and References

  • Feldgrau
  • Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka — The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1987
  • Peter Suppli Benson, Bjørn Lamnek and Stig Ørskov: Mærsk · manden og magten, Politiken Bøger, 2004 ("Maersk · The Man and Power", in Danish)
  • Christian Jensen, Tomas Kristiansen and Karl Erik Nielsen: Krigens købmænd, Gyldendal, 2000 ("The Merchants of War", in Danish)

Further reading

  • Chuev, Sergei Gennadevic: Prokliatye soldaty, [Damned soldiers], ĖKSMO, 2004, ISBN 5699059709
  • Williamson, Gordon: The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror, Brown Packaging Limited, 1994
  • Gerlach, Christian: Kalkulierte Morde, Hamburger Edition, Hamburg, 1999
  • Klaus-Peter Friedrich Collaboration in a "Land without a Quisling": Patterns of Cooperation with the Nazi German Occupation Regime in Poland during World War IISlavic Review Vol. 64, No. 4 (Winter, 2005), pp. 711–746
  • Jeffrey W. Jones "Every Family Has Its Freak": Perceptions of Collaboration in Occupied Soviet Russia, 1943–1948Slavic Review Vol. 64, No. 4 (Winter, 2005), pp. 747–770
  • Birn, Ruth Bettina, Collaboration with Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe: the Case of the Estonian Security Police. Contemporary European History 2001, 10.2, 181–198.
  • Simon Kitson, The Hunt for Nazi Spies, Fighting Espionage in Vichy France, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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